MAINE, USA — It’s one of the sweetest weekends in Maine: Maine Maple Sunday. Last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the event that celebrates one of Maine’s biggest industries was postponed. But this year, organizers are adapting and preparing a safe event for March 27-28.
The Maine Maple Producers Association (MMPA) said in a release that participating sugar houses will take steps to follow CDC guidelines and get their staff and facilities ready to welcome guests safely.
"This event is critical to the success of many family businesses and producers in Maine. The 38th annual event will certainly look and feel a bit different due to the pandemic, but we're ready,” MMPA President Scott Dunn said in a statement. “We have found creative ways to celebrate the event in different ways. Since each sugar house is unique in size and capacity, producers are adjusting their hours and purchase options, including curbside pick-up and online ordering. It is important for visitors to plan ahead by checking mainemapleproducers.com or calling your local producers about their plans for the event.”
The weekend typically attracts thousands of visitors annually to sugar shacks across the state. MMPA, which represents more than 250 of the 450 licensed maple syrup producers in Maine, said in previous years, more than 100 sugarhouses have participated from Aroostook to York County.
During a Feb. 16 coronavirus briefing, Maine CDC Director Dr. Nirav Shah was asked about the prospect of holding Maple Sunday events this March, to which Shah said it was a "sticky" question.
He said while Maine has been experiencing encouraging and improved public health metrics in recent weeks, "inevitable congregations" at even modified and solitary events like these can happen.
"As optimistic as I am because I know how sweet this holiday is for so many people…I think caution is still the watch word," Shah said.
Maine Maple Sunday is discussed in the briefing below around the 26-minute mark:
According to MMPA, more than $27 million for the Maine economy is generated by the maple syrup industry in Maine, supporting more than 560 jobs that generate more than $17.3 million in wages. Annually, the state produces more than 575,000 gallons of syrup.